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Drawing Closer

Drawing Closer

Woodlake High School students create chalk art during Suicide Prevention Week

By Patrick Dillon

WOODLAKE – More than 2,000 high school students commit suicide each year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it has been on the rise over the past few years. Last year a Woodlake High School student fell victim to the epidemic. Now that tragedy has given a fresh focus on the school’s activities during suicide prevention week and what they are doing to prevent another one of their Tigers falling victim to suicide.

“It is different because you hear about it happening at other schools, but once it happened here at a small school like Woodlake it is a big deal because it is one of our students, one of our classmates, one of our Tigers,” Brandon Renteria said.

Isela Tenorio was the first social worker director hired by Woodlake School District. In the five years since she has been with the district she has seen the week’s activities develop. At first, she, along with the dean of counseling would go around to all the home rooms of the ninth graders, and give them a questionnaire which they would then fill out. Based on their answers they would identify the students who were at high risk of suicide and connect them with resources.

Now they have made it a school wide event, and the response has been good. Many students visited a booth Tenorio ran where the students could get information on suicide prevention. Making it a school wide event has helped make the subject of suicide a much more open topic to discuss on campus.

“I’m so excited about all the participation we have had this year,” Tenorio said. “When we started a lot of the kids were making jokes of the subject, but the kids are becoming more relaxed.”

Sophomores Andrew Leon, 14, and Izaiah Benavides, 14, look at some of the chalk art drawn by heir classmates. Photo by Patrick Dillon.

Sophomores Andrew Leon, 14, and Izaiah Benavides, 14, look at some of the chalk art drawn by heir classmates. Photo by Patrick Dillon.

One of the week-long projects was the students, many from Deanna Bowers art class, drew chalk art on the sidewalks around the quad area. Many of the drawings had yellow, purple, or turquoise in them which are the colors of suicide prevention.

“The students think there are a lot of colors and up lifting messages,” Bowers said.

There are many resources around Tulare County to offer help. The Tulare County Warm Line is one of them. A warm line is a service to solve small problems or to prevent those small problems from becoming more serious. It is a non-emergency, non-crisis support telephone service. It can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-877-306-2413. Another service is the Nation Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.

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